I graduated from high school May 1990. My father died November 1990.
I remember being disappointed, maybe even angry when my father said he wasn’t coming to my high school graduation. I thought he would have been there for sure considering he wasn’t at any other school functions…at least, not that I could recall. I remember months prior to my graduation he would go to his sister (my aunt who raised me) regularly and get a few of her prescription pain pills because of his excruciating back pains. All my life I had never known him to be sick at least not to the point where he had to be hospitalized.
Well, one day he did have to go to the hospital. That day would bring sadness to our family. That night I heard the medical professionals utter the word “CANCER” to the family. I immediately broke out in sobbing tears after I saw the look in my cousin Carol eyes.. I couldn’t believe it. His sisters adored him. His nieces and nephews loved him. Later, I would catch conversation hear and there amongst the family and the phases “The cancer has metastasized” and “hospice care” would soon be common words to my ears.
Even today, I don’t view life with rose-colored glasses on. I knew what was coming. I just didn’t know it would be knocking at our door so soon. He laid in a bed at his sister house, I sat on the floor near the foot of the bed watching and laughing at a Laverne and Shirley rerun. When it was time for a commercial I noticed there was silence, no “death rattle” heard, I slowly turned around and rose to my feet and walked over to see if he was breathing…… he was not. His sisters walked in as I was doing this and they said sadly, “well he’s gone…our brother is gone”. Even then I did not cry. I’m not sure why, I just didn’t. At the funeral I think my eyes watered up a bit but as for actually crying…I did not. Even immediately after the funeral, I did not cry…. still not sure why.
Approximately 4-6 months after my father passed away, I finally cried…sobbing tearfully out the blue. I thought I would have more time. Growing up, although I knew he loved me I didn’t really recall him saying the words but then again I’m pretty sure that has a lot to do with the way he and his sisters were raised. They all had a very hard life. I didn’t come from a family that said, “I love you” a lot…They SHOWED their love by giving you a better life than they had, by keeping you on the right track and filling your head with hope that you can have the same things and more than the other person if you just work hard and get an education.
The lady in the wedding photos isn’t my birth mom. She would be one of a few step moms I would eventually have…lol.. I guess you can say my father was a marrying man. Some of the women I liked, some I didn’t.. In my later years I simply grew to ignore them. As you can see, I was pretty young in those wedding photos and that was mom #2. The one thing I’m most grateful for is my aunt, my father’s sister Joyce! That’s her in her cap and gown 🙂 She went to my father and asked if she could raise me because I needed stability.. a stable home and a constant mother figure to look over me. The best decision my father ever made was to say YES to his sister request.
From the time I went to live with my aunt, although I didn’t call her mom…she was MOM to me. She never missed a beat, I vividly remember seeing her front row at Kindergarden graduation, enrolling me into elementary school, actively being concerned when the teacher’s aid would come to the home to give progress reports, waiting on the front porch as the school bus dropped me off, always making sure I had nice clothes and plenty of food but mostly she made it where I felt safe and loved everyday. She worked very hard in and OUTSIDE the home.
When I think back and put things into perspective, I know it was the excruciating pain from the cancer that kept my father from my graduation. My father may not have known how to really take care of me as a child and we may not have had a really close relationship and at times I may looked at him not really knowing him but one thing I knew is he was the best father HE COULD BE and that was a very selfless thing to do in regards to allowing me to grow under the wings of his sister while he watched and smiled with approval knowing I was safe and sound…. he could sleep soundly.
So I say today, continue to RIP dad…. Happy Father’s Day!